Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Dry'd is that vein, dry'd is the Thespian spring,
Turn'd all to tears, and Phœbus clouds his rays;
That corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays,

Which crown'd him poet first, then poets' king.

introduced there in several pieces, to the satisfaction of the publick, who are ever fond of encouraging personal ridicule, when the follies and vices of the object are supposed to deserve it.

'But what wounded his pride and fame most sensibly, was the preference which the publick and most of his contemporary wits, gave to Ford's LOVER'S MELANCHOLY, before his NEW INN OR LIGHT HEART. They were both brought on in the same week and on the same stage; where Ben's was damn'd, and Ford's received with uncommon applause: and what made this circumstance still more galling, was, that Ford was at the head of the partisans who supported Shakspeare's fame against Ben Jonson's Invectives.'

'This so incensed old Ben, that as an everlasting stigma upon his audience, he prefixed this title to his play-"The New Inn, or Light Heart. A comedy, as it was never acted, but most negligently play'd by some, the King's idle servants; and more squeamishly beheld and censur'd by others, the King's foolish subjects." This title is followed by an abusive preface upon the audience and reader.'

'Immediately upon this, he wrote his memorable ode against the publick, beginning

66

Come, leave the loathed stage,

"And the more loathsome age," &c.

The revenge he took against Ford, was to write an epigram on him as a plagiary.

"Playwright, by chance, hearing toys I had writ,
Cry'd to my face-they were th' elixir of wit.
"And I must now believe him, for to-day

"Five of my jests, then stoln, pass'd him a play."

[ocr errors]

alluding to a character in The Ladies Trial, which Ben says Ford stole from him.'

'The next charge against Ford was, that The Lover's Melancholy was not his own, but purloined from Shakspeare's papers, by the connivance of Heminge and Condel, who in conjunction with Ford, had the revisal of them.'

"The malice of this charge is gravely refuted, and afterwards laughed at in many verses and epigrams, the best of which are those that follow, with which I shall close this theatrical extract:'

"To my worthy friend, John Ford.

""Tis said, from Shakspeare's mine your play you drew:
"What need?-when Shakspeare still survives in you;
"But grant it were from his vast treasury reft,
"That plund'rer Ben ne'er made so rich a theft."

Thomas May

Hh2

1

If tragedies might any prologue have,

All those he made would scarce make one to this;
Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave,

(Death's publick tiring-house) the Nuntius is:
For, though his line of life went soon about,
The life yet of his lines shall never out.

To the Memory of the deceased Author, Master W. Shakspeare.

Shakspeare, at length thy pious fellows give
The world thy works; thy works, by which outlive
Thy tomb, thy name must: when that stone is rent,
And time dissolves thy Stratford monument,
Here we alive shall view thee still; this book,
When brass and marble fade, shall make thee look
Fresh to all ages; when posterity

Shall loath what's new, think all is prodigy

[ocr errors]

HUGH HOLLAND.

Upon Ben Jonson, and his Zany, Tom Randolph.
"Quoth Ben to Tom, the Lover's stole,
""Tis Shakspeare's every word;
"Indeed, says Tom, upon the whole,
""Tis much too good for Ford.

"Thus Ben and Tom, the dead still praise,
"The living to decry;

"For none must dare to wear the bays,
"Till Ben and Tom both die.

"Even Avon's swan could not escape
"These letter-tyrant elves;
They on his fame contriv'd a rape,
"To raise their pedant selves.

"But after times with full consent

"This truth will all acknowledge,

"Shakspeare and Ford from heaven were sent,

"But Ben and Tom from college." Endymion Porter.

Mr. Macklin the comedian was the author of this letter; but the pamphlet which furnished his materials, was lost in its passage from Ireland.

The following stanza, from a copy of verses by Shirley, prefixed to Ford's Live's Sacrifice, 1633, alludes to the same dispute, and is apparently addressed to Ben Jonson:

"Look here thou that hast malice to the stage,
"And impudence enough for the whole age;
"Voluminously ignorant! be vext

"To read this tragedy, and thy owne be next." Steevens. *Sec Wood's Athene Oxen. edit. 1721, Vol. I, p. 583. Steevens.

That is not Shakspeare's, every line, each verse,
Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy herse.
Nor fire, nor cank'ring age,-as Naso said
Of his, thy wit-fraught book shall once invade:
Nor shall I e'er believe or think thee dead,
Though miss'd, until our bankrout stage be sped
(Impossible) with some new strain to out-do
Passions "of Juliet, and her Romeo;"

Or till I hear a scene more nobly take,
Than when thy half-sword parlying Romans spake:
Till these, till any of thy volume's rest,
Shall with more fire, more feeling, be express'd,
Be sure, our Shakspeare, thou canst never die,
But, crown'd with laurel, live eternally.

L. DIGGES.*

To the Memory of Master W. Shakspeare.

We wonder'd, Shakspeare, that thou went'st so soon
From the world's stage to the grave's tiring-room:
We thought thee dead; but this thy printed worth
Tells thy spectators, that thou went'st but forth
To enter with applause: an actor's art

Can die, and live to act a second part:
That's but an exit of mortality,
This a re-entrance to a plaudite.

J. M.†

Epon the Effigies of my worthy Friend, the Author, Master William
Shakspeare, and his Works.

Spectator, this life's shadow is;-to see
The truer image, and a livelier he,

Turn reader: but observe his comick vein,
Laugh; and proceed next to a tragick strain,
Then weep: so,-when thou find'st two contraries,
Two different passions from thy rapt soul rise,-
Say, (who alone effect such wonders could,)
Rare Shakspeare to the life thou dost behold.+

* See Wood's Athenæ Oxoniensis, Vol. I, p. 599 and 600, edit. 1721. His translation of Claudian's Rape of Proserpine was entered on the Stationers' books, Oct. 4, 1617.

Steevens.

It was printed in the same year. Malone.

Perhaps John Marston. Steevens.

These verses first appeared in the folio, 1632. There is no name subscribed to them. Malone.

[ocr errors][merged small]

On worthy Master Shakspeare, and his Poems s
A mind reflecting ages past, whose clear
And equal surface can make things appear,
Distant a thousand years, and represent
Them in their lively colours, just extent:
To outrun hasty time,* retrieve the fates,
Roll back the heavens, blow ope the iron gates
Of death and Lethe, where confused lie
Great heaps of ruinous mortality:

In that deep dusky dungeon, to discern
A royal ghost from churls; by art to learn
The physiognomy of shades, and give
Them sudden birth, wond'ring how oft they live;
What story coldly tells, what poets feign
At second hand, and picture without brain,
Senseless and soul-less shews: To give a stage,―
Ample, and true with life,-voice, action, age,
As Plato's year, and new scene of the world,
Them unto us, or us to them had hurl'd:
To raise our ancient sovereigns from their herse,
Make kings his subjects; by exchanging verse
Enlive their pale trunks, that the present age
Joys in their joy, and trembles at their rage:
Yet so to temper passion, that our ears
Take pleasure in their pain, and eyes in tears
Both weep and smile; fearful at plots so sad,
Then laughing at our fear; abus'd, and glad
To be abus'd; affected with that truth
Which we perceive is false, pleas'd in that ruth
At which we start, and, by elaborate play,
Tortur'd and tickl'd; by a crab-like way
Time past made pastime, and in ugly sort
Disgorging up his ravin for our sport:-

-While the plebeian imp, from lofty throne,
Creates and rules a world, and works upon
Mankind by secret engines; now to move
A chilling pity, then a rigorous love;
To strike up and stroke down, both joy and ire;
To steer the affections; and by heavenly fire
Mold us anew, stoln from ourselves:-

This, and much more, which cannot be express'&
But by himself, his tongue, and his own breast,-
Was Shakspeare's freehold; which his cunning brain
Improv'd by favour of the nine-fold train;-
The buskin'd muse, the comick queen, the grand
And louder tone of Clio, nimble hand

*To outrun hasty time,] 86

And panting time toil'd after him in vain.”
Dr. Johnson's Prologue. Steevens

7

And nimbler foot of the melodious pair,
The silver-voiced lady, the most fair
Calliope, whose speaking silence* daunts,
And she whose praise the heavenly body chants,
These jointly woo'd him, envying one another;—
Obey'd by all as spouse, but lov'd as brother;-
And wrought a curious robe, of sable grave,
Fresh green, and pleasant yellow, red most brave,
And constant blue, rich purple, guiltless white,
The lowly russet, and the scarlet bright:
Branch'd and embroider'd like the painted spring;
Each leaf match'd with a flower, and each string
Of golden wire, each line of silk: there run
Italian works, whose thread the sisters spun;
And there did sing, or seem to sing, the choice
Birds of a foreign note and various voice:
Here hangs a mossy rock; there plays a fair
But chiding fountain, purled: not the air,
Not clouds, nor thunder, but were living drawn;
Nor out of common tiffany or lawn,
But fine materials, which the muses know,
And only know the countries where they grow.

Now, when they could no longer him enjoy,
In mortal garments pent,-death may destroy,
They say, his body; but his verse shall live,
And more than nature takes our hand shall give :
In a less volume, but more strongly bound,
Shakspeare shall breathe and speak; with laurel crown'd,
Which never fades; fed with ambrosian meat,
In a well-lined vesture, rich, and neat:

So with this robe they clothe him, bid him wear it;
For time shall never stain, nor envy tear it.

The friendly Admirer of his Endowments,

J. M. S.f

speaking silence-]
"Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes." Pope's Hom.
Steevens.

Probably, Jasper Mayne, Student. He was born in the year 1604, and became a member of Christ Church, in Oxford, in 1623, where he was soon afterwards elected a Student. In 1628 he took a bachelor's degree, and in June, 1631, that of a Master of Arts. These verses first appeared in the folio, 1632.

Malone

« PředchozíPokračovat »